Top 5 TE Values for 2016
You will be bombarded by lists and rankings, but what you really want is to identify and target value picks. By definition, value picks will be players available outside of the first three rounds and a little riskier than some of the players available earlier in the draft. You might be able to wait on TE to get some incredible values later in the draft or you can use these players if the guy you’re targeting early gets snipped before you pick.
Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers
Antonio Gates had a down year with a 56/630/5 stat line, but remember that he did that while missing four games due to suspension and another from injury. Averaging 5 receptions per game is obviously good for a TE, but consider that in every year he’s played 15 or more games and averaged 5 receptions/game he had double digit TDs. That’s reason for optimism, but there’s a huge X-factor that makes me believe Gates is going to score right around double-digit TDs. Gates is sitting at 104 career TDs, just 8 TDs away from passing Tony Gonzalez on the all-time TD record for TEs. Philip Rivers has made it a goal to get Gates the record during the 2016 season. If this wasn’t the most prolific QB-TE combo in NFL history, I might let that comment slide, but this is a pairing that has been together for 10 years. Gates is going to get at least 8 TDs this year which is pretty amazing for a TE, especially with a 10.01 ADP.
Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts
Dwayne Allen is a small risk with potential for huge reward at TE this year. Allen has had a miserable time staying on the field missing 21 games in the last three years and the presence of Coby Fleener limited his upside in past years. These are the factors that have suppressed his ADP, but there are very few TEs with a better opportunity for a huge year in 2016. The Colts offense couldn’t get it together last year as Andrew Luck struggled while battling injuries and missing several games. The Colts should boast one of the most prolific offenses in the NFL this year with Luck back at the helm and Rob Chudzinski running the offense which is why John Paulsen picked Dwayne Allen as his Fantasy MVP. All of that potential can be yours at a very reasonable 12.07 ADP.
Martellus Bennett, New England Patriots
The situation in New England with Tom Brady’s suspension and the addition of Martellus Bennett is making it difficult on the fantasy community to project what the offense will look like. All of the uncertainty has driven Bennett’s ADP down, but there are reasons to be optimistic about Bennett’s potential. The best friend of an inexperienced QB in Jimmy Garopollo is a good run game…and good defense, but beyond that it’s a good TE. Not only does Garopollo have one good TE, he has the most dominant TE duo assembled in the NFL since Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez became matchup nightmares for opposing defenses. Gronk finished as the overall TE1 and TE2 in 2011 and 2012. Hernandez finished and overall TE16 in 2011 while only playing in 10 games and the overall TE3 in 2011 despite playing in 14 games. Hernandez averaged 5.4 receptions and .5 TDs per game during those two years. If Bennett can average 5 receptions per game, the Patriots may have two top-5 fantasy TEs again.
Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
This may be a good Final Jeopardy Answer: ‘Finished as a TE1 in standard scoring the last 10 consecutive years including five top-5 finishes during that stretch.’ Who is Jason Witten. Even fantasy football enthusiasts probably wouldn’t have known the answer. This is a guy as consistent and reliable as they come. Remember when he played in a game 23 days after lacerating a spleen?! There is very little chance Witten turns in another top-5 season, but he’s almost certainly going to give you a TE1 season and he’s being drafted with a 13.11 ADP as the 17th TE off the board.
Ladarius Green, Pittsburgh Steelers
Ladarius Green’s ADP gradually fell when recovery from an ankle surgery that should have completed back in July carried into the preseason with no indication a return date will be happening anytime soon. Green’s ADP has recently been in freefall after rumors of recurring headaches from past concussions and a possible early retirement surfaced. There has been very little clarity about the status of the ankle or the headaches, but here’s where the value comes in. You can take Green with one of the last picks in your draft. If he’s healthy, you bought a high-upside TE with a late pick. If he’s not ready for the opener, you can slide him into your IR spot once he’s officially declared out. You basically just bought yourself someone with TE1 potential for free. FREE! You can’t beat free!
The TE position is as deep as it’s ever been. There are so many TEs with the potential to return 10+ TD performances and many of them are going very late in drafts. If you find yourself tempted to reach for a late round WR to fill in an occasional flex spot, just remember that TEs can be used in the flex position too. You might be pleasantly surprised by this year’s Tyler Eifert or Gary Barnidge with a late round TE selection.